Chord Substitutions

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Chord Substitution

Chord substitution refers to the art of changing and/or adding chords to a progression in order to create harmony that is different and more interesting. “The general chord substitution rule holds that chords that share two or more notes in common can be readily substituted for each other” (Money Chords). Substitutions that share two or more notes in common are referred to as a common tone substitution. Any chord substitution must sound good and your ear is always the final arbiter of acceptability. The box below shows several examples of frequently used common tone substitutions. (Excerpt from Chord Progressions For Songwriters)

Original Chord Substitute Chords Original Chord Substitute Chords
I VIm; IIIm C Am; Em
IV IIm; VIm F Dm; Am
V7 VIIo; IIIm; bII7 G7 Bo; Em; Db7

Click below for the best free Chord Substitution lessons available on the web.


MoneyChords Lessons

Bass Line Movement - Part I
Backcycling - Part II
Chord Quality Change - Part III
Diminished Seventh Substitution - Part IV
Dominant Seventh Substitution - Part V
Embellishments - Part VI
Half-Step Substitution - Part VII
IIm-V Substitution - Part VIII
Inversions - Part IX
Mediant and Relative Major/Minor Substitution - Part X
Scalewise Substitution - Part XI
Tritone Substitution - Part XII
Chord Synonyms - Part XIII
Quartal Harmony - Part XIV

Other Lessons

A Chord Substitution Primer (MaximumMusician)
Chord Substitution Generator (Changes '98)
Reharmonization (MoneyChords)
Substitution Rules (WholeNote)


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